Archive for July 2016


Christmas Eve news reports from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Associated Press brings us horrid, horrid developments about the British Royal Family of our Mother England.

BBC gave this sad report precedence over reports of four American soldiers being killed in Iraq and the cancellation of as many as six Air France flights to and from the United States because of terror threats.  It seems that a pall has settled over Buckingham Palace which puts a heavy damper on Christmas celebrations In much of the civilized world.

It seems that when the widely beloved Princess Anne came to visit her mother, the Queen of England, she brought her dogs with her.  Among her dogs was Dotty, a miserable bull terrier who bit two children, aged 7 and 12, last year as they walked near Windsor Castle.  Presumably, the Princess’s dogs came to express Christmas cheer to the Queen’s nine dogs.  During these proceedings, Dotty fatally bit Pharoe, the Queen’s favorite corgi; hence, the gloom over the Royals at the Palace.

We’d like it to be known that any gloom suffered by the English Royal Family in Buckingham Palace is shared equally here in our little house in Short Hills by two American rebels who trace their ancestry to Ireland.  By Jove, Governor, we are as distraught as the Windsor family.

Rule Brittania, Brittania rules the waves – but apparently not over Princess Anne’s bull terrier.



I just love that this even got an essay.



Early in December, 2003, news reports and network television broadcasts quoted Lt. Colonel Nathan Sassaman of the United States Army as delivering these pungent remarks after the American Army had shot up some Iraqi villages. Col. Sassaman said, “With a heavy dose of fear and violence and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them”.

When television reporters asked Sassaman to repeat those remarks so they could eliminate any erroneous inferences, he repeated exactly the same sentence which I assume he had written down. Can you imagine a field grade American Army officer saying a “heavy dose of fear and violence can convince these (Iraqi) people that we are here to help”?

If that is the price to be paid for “help,” it would be just as well for the Iraqis to forego all such “help.” Yet Sassaman’s comments drew no fire whatsoever from his military superiors. It must be assumed that the chain of command extending back to Washington finds no fault with Sassaman’s remarks. What crimes are being committed in the name of the American people in a war that serves only the political destiny of this administration.

If I were a believer, my thoughts would be on prayer with hopes for a miracle. But I am not a believer, so the killings will go on apace.

Now we turn to three other examples of military justice at work. If these examples of the justices turned out by the American military are justice in any sense of the word, then my perception of justice is clearly askew.

In the first Gulf War, several Air Force and Navy fliers were shot down and were captured. They endured torture of the most gruesome kind, which went on for several months.

That was around 1991. When they were eventually released, they brought suit against Iraq asking that some of Iraq’s oil wealth be set aside for their compensation. They were awarded something like about a billion dollars.

Two or three weeks ago, the Bush administration overrode the courts and announced that the fliers would get nothing for the damage inflicted upon them when they were prisoners of war.

The rationale for this is convoluted, but here it is. When the pre-emptive war launched by George Bush was still underway, it was belatedly announced that all of Iraq’s assets were transferred to the U. S. Treasury. We got it all. None of it went to our erstwhile allies like Great Britain. It all wound up in Washington, so the Bushies say that suing Iraq is pointless because they have no money. Just because they pump billions of gallons of oil each year is no reason for them to have any money in the Iraqi treasury.

And to top off this illogical set of arguments, the Bush people contend that all the money is absolutely neededed to help in rebuilding Iraq. The imprisoned fliers are simply out of luck.

When Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes” spoke to these former captives, he reminded them that their award by the U. S. Court system could be turned around instantly by George Bush. Bush isn’t going to make it happen. They have even stated that the award in total or in part could be diverted to someone other than themselves, such as a charity. There is absolutely no response from the United States government. It looks like the captured fliers have been stiffed by the Bush Administration.

Now we turn to Captain McAlpin, a member of the Army Reserves from New Jersey. McAlpin has completed 19 years with the Reserves and will be eligible to retire in 2004.

Earlier, McAlpin and many of his troops served a full year in Iraq. They were rotated out with the firm understanding established by the Army, that they would not be sent back to Iraq for at least a year. Foolishly, McAlpin relied on that understanding.

In the Fall of 2003, the Army announced that McAlpin and his troops would be sent back to Iraq after only 11 months at home. The Army leaned all over the affected troops to sign waivers saying that they agreed to return to Iraq voluntarily after only 11 months, in place of a year, at home. Remember, these Reserves have regular civilian jobs too.

McAlpin and several of his troops declined to sign such a waiver. And this is where the bad news starts for Captain McAlpin. After it became clear that McAlpin did not intend to sign the waiver, the Army, as it always does, resorted to force. Remember, all you readers were warned in previous essays that soldiers don’t get paid for thinking. It takes no brain power to apply force, which is what the Army did to Captain McAlpin.

First, McAlpin was charged with insubordination, which the military considers a very serious accusation. If a soldier refused to obey an order to fire his gun at the enemy after being told to do so, that will bring a charge of insubordination. But McAlpin never refused a lawful order. He simply declined to sign an unlawful waiver. Nonetheless, he was charged with insubordination and must face a court-martial, it is reported.

Not content with the charge of insubordination and the court-martial, the Army downgraded McAlpin to a lower rank. It was not reported how far down the ranks the Army degraded McAlpin. Such a downgrading is unheard of except as the outcome of a court-martial trial. But the Army did it before any trial could take place.

On top of all his other woes, McAlpin most likely will have to consider whether he will be kicked out of the Reserves or whether he should abandon 19 years of superior service. Of course, the downgrading will result in a lower pension. If he is forced to leave the Reserves, or if he resigns, it may be that he will have no pension at all.

This is one more instance of justice in the military system.

And that brings us to Chaplain Yee of the U. S. Army. He ministers, in his most recent assignment, to the Muslim prisoners at Guantánamo.

Somewhere during his service in Guantánamo, some Army sleuths began to suspect him of carrying messages from the prisoners. There was never any evidence of any kind, just suspicion. It may be assumed that Captain Yee spoke in Arabic to the prisoners, which his superiors did not understand and perhaps they concluded it was treasonous.

This investigation of Chaplain Yee, incidentally, occurred shortly after he took some of the prisoners complaints to the prison authorities.

When he left Guantánamo for the United States, he carried some papers with him. The indications are that the papers had to do with his duties as a Muslim counselor on Guantánamo.

Ah, but that was not good enough for the United States Army. They contended that Chaplain Yee carried treasonous documents with him. Accordingly, he was jailed in a military facility – and denied access to a lawyer. He was permitted no visitors except Army investigators. This solitary confinement went on for three months.

During that stretch of time, military officials in the Army must have concluded that they had no case at all against an American citizen who was serving the Army as a Muslim chaplain.

But there is no way that the Army will ever admit they were in error. So they avoided the treasonous documents charge that could have brought a death sentence to Captain Yee. Instead, Yee was charged with adultery and carrying “unauthorized papers.” And this is where the farce of Army regulations appears.

Yee contends that the papers he carried and voluntarily showed to Army personnel when he re-entered the United States, were papers having to do with his work. Curiously, it is my belief that the papers were in English, not in Arabic, so there was no mystery about them. But the papers had never been classified by the Army. This threw a major monkey wrench into Captain Yee’s trial. It must be a military rule now that every document be classified. So the trial was halted while Yee’s work papers were submitted to the Army classification system. Until the papers are classified, the defense team, the prosecution and the judge are forbidden to look at these work documents. The best guess by military authorities is that it will take the classification board between three to six months to produce a classification.

Before the flap about the classification of Yee’s papers arose, the Army produced a young Navy officer who admitted an adulterous relationship with the Muslim Chaplain. Yee has had no chance to admit or to deny that relationship because his turn to testify has not occurred.

This much is clear, however. The young female Navy officer who admitted to an alleged adulterous relationship, has signed her death warrant as far as her military career is concerned. And Captain Yee, once the classification flap is settled, may as well seek other employment outside the military services. It may be suspected that this testimony about an adulterous relationship, whether true or not, is not conducive to his future with his wife or in the Muslim clergy or in the United States Army.

In the meantime, while the Army is pursuing the classification fiasco, Captain Yee is home with his family. A few months ago, the Army was thinking about the death penalty. Now this great danger to the American system, is home with no duties. Perhaps, he can consider himself furloughed.

So two lives are besmirched because the Army had to charge Yee with something after the Army had concluded that there were no grounds at all to punish Yee for treason. No difference whatsoever that adultery is punished so infrequently that few people can remember such a court-martial charge ever being sought. The writer of this essay never heard of such a case in his years of service with the Army.

But in the end, my friends, it is simply too much to expect that the American military justice system will ever say that charges against a PERCEIVED perpetrator will ever be dropped – or that a “not guilty” outcome will satisfy the system. It has been clear to the writer of this essay since service during World War II, that once a military person is charged with an offense, it MUST RESULT IN A CONVICTION OR SOME PENALTY. Even if the charge is reduced from treason to adultery, there must be a conviction of some sort.

Two thoughts occur here. Captain Yee is a West Point graduate. My service never took me any where near West Point. Secondly, the writer of this essay is not connected in any way with the Muslim faith.

And so this old soldier asks where is the justice in Colonel Sassaman’s thought about helping the Iraqi people? And where is there justice of any kind in denying court ordered payment to the fliers downed in combat and tortured? And what about the treatment of Captain McAlpin? And finally, it is doubted that Captain Yee or the young female Navy officer will ever turn to the military system for justice or understanding.

An old Army maxim holds that there is no justice in military justice, just as there is no music in military music. It is a cruel turn of events that makes military people realize how true this old observation about a general truth might be.

December 25, 2003

I’ve always wondered about the court-marshaling system. Reading this essay, it reminds me of what happens when a university decides to handle something like a rape case on its own, without involving real police. Basically that it seems extremely whimsical, and ultimately only ends up serving the benefit of the institution holding court. Why not try troops in real courts, and just have special laws on the books that only apply to soldiers? Why is adultery even an illegal offence in the army?


From time to time, my thoughts turn to the war in Iraq and in Afghanistan. As a World War II soldier, may you be assured that war is not a pleasant pastime. It is repugnant.

Combat soldiers see bodies blown apart and maimed. The soldier you were pals with yesterday, may be a maimed cripple today. Or, he may be dead. The people in the streets are not innocent civilians; they are the “enemy” as the American Army phrases it. No one seems to count civilian dead or civilian wounded. Somehow, they are overlooked and no one is in charge of counting the casualties.

In recent months, Iraqi opposition to American forces is met with violence. As Lt. Colonel Sassaman announced two to three weeks ago, he claimed to have the formula for success in the field. “With a heavy dose of fear and violence and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them.”

Our troops appear to be trigger happy. They are young and many of them are not professional soldiers at all. They are Reservists or National Guard troops who have been sent into combat situations without adequate training or without proper protective gear. So they often shoot first and investigate the situation later. For a young soldier in a foreign land with little or no understanding of the language or customs, it is understandable for them to have an itchy finger on the trigger of their weapons.

Aside from shooting up towns as Colonel Sassamann has done, the American Army has a series of efforts to subdue the Iraqi people. They are given trick names such as “Operation Sledgehammer” to tell the Iraqis that we intend to kill them if they resist. These operations literally take sledgehammers to knock locks off of doors. When they gain entrance in many cases, male members of the family found inside the house are forced to kneel in front of their homes while a bag is tied around the head. All of this takes place while the women and children see the absolute humiliation of the head of the family. This sort of conduct earns the American Army the undying hatred of the Iraqi people. And that hatred absolutely will last for generations.

If anyone doubts the long term existence of such hatred, let them look at the situation of the Irish nation. Ireland was under the dictatorial domination of the English for as much as 900 years. There was a showdown in Dublin in 1916 at the General Post Office. The men who led the revolt, known as the Easter Uprising, were executed by the British. In the case of James Connelly, a leader of the Uprising, who was wounded in the uprising and could no longer stand, the British executed him by gunfire as he sat in a chair. Some say he was executed while lying down. Ireland won its freedom in 1922 only six years after the uprising, but the hatred and distain for the British Crown and its Army persist to this day. This hatred for the occupation has become legendary in Ireland through its songs, so it will live forever. This is the legacy that we are leaving behind in Iraq.

Our military seems to regard the attacks by civilians as a personal affront to their authority. And in the unthinking way of military men who disdain intellect and thinking, the Army responds with force. In point of fact, the Iraqi reaction is to the occupation of their country and to the tactics employed by the Army. It is my belief that if the situations were reversed with an Arab country governing affairs here in the United States, it is most likely that American civilians would act to forcibly eject the occupiers. It is the reaction to the pre-emptive war and the occupation that underlies the violence visited upon American troops.

It is an inescapable fact that the Americans have adopted the practices of the Israeli government in its dealings with the Palestinians. The Israeli Army is bludgeoning the Palestinians and building a wall to separate the two people. To the extent that we make an out and out grant amounting to something like three billion dollars annually to the Israelis, the wall is being built with American funds. And in the end, the Palestinian people have come to hate Ariel Sharon and the Israelis and they have come to hate us. That is some payoff for the efforts of the citizens of Israel.

In this regard, there is a pointed philosophy coming out of the Middle East. It has been ascribed to an Israeli and to a Palestinian and to the Arabs, perhaps to an Iraqi. The thought holds that, “The only way to deal with a mortal enemy is to make a friend out of him”. That thought is worthy of thinking about. Is making a friend out of your enemy better than gunfire and bombs and most of all, hatred? There are no two ways about the superiority of the friend philosophy.

And to think that the thought about friendship came out of the conflicts in Israel and in Iraq. Clearly, it is worth a try, particularly to Ariel Sharon and George Bush. What is being done in Israel and in Iraq and Afghanistan is quite the opposite. It is nothing less than generating hatred. All of us can do better than that.

There is a verse from the Song of Solomon. In verse 18, we are all urged to, “Let us reason together.” Reason has not been given a try in Israel or in the American pre-emptive invasion of Iraq.

There also is another thought that comes from a minor Prophet who lived in the second half of the 8th Century B. C. His name is Micah. He was a contemporary of Isaiah and Hezekiah. In the book of the Bible attributed to Micah, it says, “What does the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” (see Micah, Chapter 6, verse 8)

There are a lot of red hot Christians in Washington who now guide the American efforts in Iraq. It might be wondered if those believing Christians have ever given thought to the Song of Solomon or to Micah. Micah’s words come to us after 2800 years. Surely, they are worth our attention. Perhaps the estimable Colonel Sassaman might think about those words, but in all likelihood his orders come from further up the chain of command, perhaps from Washington. Shoot everyone in sight to convince the Iraqis that if they resist the occupation, they will be killed.

One other case of unneeded, undying hatred comes to mind. It has to do with the treatment of the Italian populace by the Germans during the 1939 to 1945 period. Perhaps it would be better to say it was the German military mistreating the Italian rather than the whole German populace.

In the late 1930’s, Italy was run by dictator Benito Mussolini. Germany was under the control of Adolf Hitler. Mussolini pictured himself as a lion and in 1935, invaded Ethiopia. Eventually, the Ethiopians had to accept the invasion of their country after Ethiopian barefoot soldiers inflicted some humiliating defeats on the Italian invaders. Mussolini found a senior partner in Adolf Hitler in Germany. Before long, the two of them claimed the title of the “Axis Powers” to mark their formal alliance. Not long after 1939, it became fairly obvious that entering the “Festung Europa” might be accomplished through Italy. The German term was “Fortress Europe.” It was always a German creation and German troops gave it its muscle.

So Hitler had German troops occupy Italy shortly after 1939. While Mussolini and Hitler were pals, things proceeded without much organized resistance because any uprising against the German troops would quickly be dealt with by the Black Shirts of Mussolinis Facist party.

In 1942 and early 1943, Allied troops engaged the Germans in North Africa. In May 1943, German troops were decisively defeated largely through the efforts of General Omar Bradley of the U. S. Army. At Cape Bon in Tunisia, more than 200,000 German troops surrendered, thus ending the hopes of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Korps.

Hitler was right. The invasion of Italy came next. Increasingly, the Nazis tightened the screws on the Italians claiming that they were unworthy partners who did not warrant German trust.

The Allies conquered Sicily and advanced up the peninsula to a line from Naples in the West to locations near Foggia in the East. The Germans knew they had had a fight on their hands for some months and more was to come. Among other things, German military authorities began to crack down on any show of lack of enthusiasm by the Italians. The Germans were masters in the Italian households. To the extent that repression increased, the Italians fought back. The parallels with the situation in Italy are strikingly like the situation today in Iraq. It is natural to strike back at the occupier whether it was German in the Italian case or the Americans in Iraq.

The Italians had begun to move to the Allied side when the Sicilian invasion became known. It came to a head when Italy’s diminutive King, Victor Emmanuel ousted his premier, Mussolini, in the Summer of 1943. From there on out, the Germans regarded every Italian civilian as an enemy much the way the American Army troops regard Iraqi civilians in 2003.

Italian resistance grew everywhere, including in Rome, and with the Italian Partisans in Northern Italy. In Rome in March 1944, an event took place that turned the Italian people into long time haters of the German people.

In Rome, which was supposed to be an open city, it was none-the-less swarming with German troops. Of all the German troops, the most feared and hated were the SS troops. The SS included the Gestapo units that were responsible for hunting down and killing Jews. The SS were an elite section of the Nazi Party. There was one unit of the SS training in Rome at that time. They were the 11th Company Bozen SS troops. Each day they would end their training by marching through a residential section of Rome singing a military song called “Hupf, Mein Mädel”. It means, “Skip, my lassie”.

They sang this marching song while climbing a steep, narrow street in Rome called Via Rasella. On each side of Via Raselli are three story apartments in which dwelled middle class civilians. The marching German men were called Defense Corps. In the German language, that is Schultzstaffel which the Nazis shortened to SS.

Every day, the Bozen SS 11th Company marched up the hill on the Via Raselli. On this day, their commander called at the bottom of the hill, “Ein lied,” a song. As always, the SS troops sang, “Hupf, Mein Mädel.” What the Germans did not know was that the Italian Resistance organization had planned a trap for them with large garbage cans filled with explosives. The bombs went off and a total of 33 SS Bozen troops were killed.

When he heard of what had happened to his prized SS troops, the Commander of all German occupying forces in Italy, Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, ordered retribution. He decreed that ten Italians must die for each German SS casualty. That meant 330 Italians must die.

The men in Rome who were to carry out the order hoped that there were many prisoners held by the Italians that were under the sentence of death. It turns out, only three such prisoners existed. The Germans then hoped that Jews could be caught for execution in a reprisal for the bombing on Via Rastelli. But due to a very short deadline, only a few Jews turned up. To make up the difference, petty criminals and people who had been informed on were included. When they needed more Italians, some civilians living on Via Rastelli were caught. One man was in bed in his pajamas, but he soon found himself among the condemned.

They were taken two miles south of Rome on the Via Ardeatina to the caves that gave that Via its name. There was a monstrous hill of industrial sand which had been mined by contractors in the past to produce the materials to make concrete. This mining operation had left large connecting caves in the hill. It was there in March 1944, that the German Military authorities executed, not 330 men, but due to a clerical error, 335 men were killed.

Their executioners were inexpert and many of them were repelled by this task of shooting, hand cuffed men. As a result, the bullets of the executions did not always bring instant death. The Nazis piled one corpse on top of the others so many such wounded men died of being crushed and smothering.

When the Pope was told what had happened to his Romans, he had an editorial published in his Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, calling for greater cooperation and more compassion. The Germans were never mentioned. The Pope knew what was happening when people were being arrested, but his official pronouncements were bland and never accused the Germans of another atrocity.

While the Pope had virtually nothing to say about the Ardeantine Massacre, the Italian people were absolutely outraged. Their resistance efforts were multiplied many fold. And whether Kesselring realized it or not, the German occupation of Italy was ending. In May, 1944 the Allies captured Rome and the rout was on. Mussolini and Clara Petacchi, his mistress were caught by the Partisans and hung from poles. The Normandy landings took place in June, 1944 and after some heavy fighting, the Germans started to collapse. Hitler committed suicide and the unconditional surrender of Germany occurred at Rheims on May 7, 1945 in a school house. And so the occupation of Italy by German troops came to an end. But memories and hatreds live on.

In the late 1970’s, my longtime Roman friend Enzo Fratini, took me on a tour of Via Rastelli and a trip to the scene of the Ardeantine Massacre. Enzo as a young man had lived through the occupation. It was clear that more than 30 years after the war, he was in no mood to forgive the Germans.

There is one other thought here. Two men from Imperia in Northwestern Italy came to New Jersey at around age 20 after graduating from a cooking school. My belief is that they were born as early as 1965, which now makes them less then 40 years of age. Several years ago, they elected to gamble and to establish a new Italian restaurant in a building that had been occupied by a hardware store. The gamble has paid off handsomely. We are very pleased to be among their customers from the beginning. Even though the date of their births came long after the war had ended, they remember. They have read an essay or two about my being involved in the operations of the United States Army in Italy in 1943 and 1944.

For years, whenever we eat a meal at their restaurant, we always order dessert. When the waiter delivers the dessert order, there is always a third dessert that comes with “the compliments of the management.” Always an extra dessert. Not long ago, when we were in conversation with the owners, one of them, with no prodding from us, made it clear that he appreciated the effort of the Americans to “liberate” his Italian countrymen. And so young men remember also.

So the message must be clear for all to see. When a country is occupied against its will, longtime hatred will result. There is the Irish disdain for the British Crown. No love is lost between the Ethiopians and the Italians. The same must be said for Italian memories of the German occupation, which ended nearly 59 years ago. And the Chinese, remembering the Rape of Nanking in the late 1930’s, hate the Japanese to this day. And the Palestinians blow themselves up rather than to submit to the humiliations of the Israeli Army. And to the extent American forces terrorize the Iraqis by such devices as the Army’s Sledgehammer operation or by Colonel Sassaman’s thought about violence and fear, nothing other than long term hatred will result. We can do better and we should.

There is a curious turn of events in Iraq. For all these years, we have thought of the U. S. Marines as the tough guys. In Iraq, the Marines in their sector have put away their tanks, in one case, and are patrolling the streets on foot. The Marines are encouraged to learn the names of Iraqi citizens and to shake their hands and to pat their kids on the head. The Marines have the lowest casualty rate of all the American occupiers. The Marines have it right; the Army has it all wrong.


Those are my current thoughts about war and the philosophy of generating hatred. Hatred lasts a long, long time. The American people are being disserved by what is taking place in their names in Iraq. We have quite enough hatred to deal with right now. When George Bush refers to Iran and Syria and Iraq as an “Axis of Evil,” do you ever think that he knows he is using a term first proposed in modern times by Adolf Hitler when he referred to Germany, Italy and Japan as the “Axis Powers”? Remember when he referred to the invasion of Afghanistan as a Crusade? Bush reads no history, so he probably does not know that past.

Hatred is self defeating and self destructive. We have to do better in Iraq and lift the oppressive forces of our occupation. If it continues, we will need to be counting the dead and wounded, Iraqi and American, for a long time just like the Palestinians and the Israelis. We have to do better. One of the ways to do better is to pay attention to the Mideast thought that the only way to deal with a mortal enemy is to make a friend out of him. My views are all in favor of friendship as opposed to humiliation and explosives. And what is wrong with the Song of Solomon’s thought, “Come, let us reason together.” And what about Micah who 2800 years ago urged us “to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly.”

December 31, 2003


Aaaaaand now we’ve got ISIS. And when we bomb them sufficiently, we’ll presumably enter into a war with whoever comes after ISIS to fill the vaccuum. I’m not sure how this ends, but it isn’t happily.


This is a story about eating. Specifically, it has to do with eating in old fashioned saloons. The eating I refer to took place in St. Louis which used to offer perhaps a dozen breweries and hundreds of saloons. It has nothing to do with heels on shoes or boots, although St. Louis was also renowned for its production of footwear. It is a given that you will remember the slogan about St. Louis: First in Shoes; First in Booze; and last in the American League. The last part of that slogan was an evaluation of the lowly St. Louis Browns, a major league baseball club that tried its best, but usually fell short.

Before we get to Eating Heels, you may wish to know a little about St. Louis and this old essayist who actually confronted and consumed those heels served by old fashioned saloons. I am quite resigned to the thought that you may consider my conduct in this essay in eating heels as plebeian and probably peasant-like. I accept that evaluation. Never have I denied that plebeian and peasantry definitions should apply to me. I sort of welcome those designations. I will call your attention to the fact that my only redemptive quality is that I drink only four to six bottles of beer per year. When St. Louis preachers occasionally sober up, I’m sure they will comment favorably on that abstemious fact.

It is fortunate that I was not born a Swede. Nearly every meal in Sweden seems to start with beer. When I was in Sweden, it was my pleasure to join with my good friend Sven Lernevall and other Swedes to down a glass of Tuborg. The Swedish Council of Churches (Lutheran) may well start nearly all their meals with beer. If so, my congratulations are offered. I will think about becoming a Swedish Lutheran as judgment day approaches.

As life worked out for me, my parents lived in Clayton, Missouri. Curiously, for the first eleven years of my life, the U. S. Government enforced Prohibition which meant that nearly all alcohol and alcoholic beverages were banned, which gave rise to bootlegging operations. Life for me started in Clayton and continued there to 1942 when an enlistment in the United States Army Air Corps intervened.

Clayton is a suburb which adjoins St. Louis on its western borders. Clayton was and is a wealthy town with the merchant and professional classes of St. Louis having many of their residences in Clayton. The school system was considered excellent under the direction of John Bracken, its superintendent. When the school system counted me on its rolls for nearly 12 years, the demographics of the grade and high school were pretty close to 55% Jewish. That was fine with me. It was generally believed that the parents in such a system would insist on excellence in the schools. And that’s what John Bracken delivered.

The fact that the town was wealthy and that the school system had ample funds made very little difference to me. From late 1929 when the Depression started, my father was often out of work through no fault of his own. For all of my high school years, it was usual for me to have an after school job, even if it was only babysitting or repairing flat tires at Schroth’s Flying Red Horse Mobil Gas Station. My recreation was often with boys from the County Orphan’s Home.

Growing up in this atmosphere did me a world of good. The value of a dollar was clear to me from the beginning. Working was a normal part of my life. Army life presented no problems when at age 19, it came into my life. And most importantly, my upbringing equipped me to deal with big folks and with the “little people”, as hotel queen Leona Helmsley once called them. The little people – the people who work in grocery stores, the people who pump my gas, the man who fixes my roof – are my friends to this day.

And this essay is about some more little people, namely the sandwich makers who worked in a saloon in downtown St. Louis.

St. Louis used to be a somewhat more important city than it is today. With more than 800,000 population, it ranked eighth among American cities in the 1940’s and 1950’s. The city today is somewhere around 400,000 in population. As people got older and gained more affluence, many of them moved to St. Louis County, a different jurisdiction. As a matter of direct honesty, there are neighborhoods that used to be thriving. Today, when driving through those same St. Louis neighborhoods, the car doors must be locked. Leaving as soon as possible becomes urgent. The top executives of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company erected a brand new headquarters building from which to guide their multi-state company. It was soon followed by their move to San Antonio, Texas. The new building was abandoned. The
St. Louis Post Dispatch which was a leading paper in the country in the 1930’s, 1940’s and into the ‘50’s, is seldom quoted these days. It has become a local paper printing AP dispatches instead of having correspondents on the scene. The St. Louis Cardinal baseball organization has not won a National League pennant since 1987 and seems content to muddle through while making enough money to satisfy the current owners. The symphony orchestra under the direction of Vladamir Golschmann, was one of America’s finest. It continued under Golschmann’s successor, Leonard Slatkin. But now, Slatkin has left for the Washington National Symphony. The Grand Opera Association is a thing of the past, I am afraid. I am sorry about all this. St. Louis could probably still be a top flight city. Right now, however, it has a long way to go.

Now we get to eating and drinking, which in St. Louis always seemed to go together. As I mentioned earlier, about a dozen beer breweries called St. Louis home. For a three or four year period, my wife and I rented a flat at 2916A Wyoming Avenue in nearby South St. Louis. The “A” in the address indicated that we lived on the second floor.

Within easy walking distance, there were three breweries in our neighborhood. There was Alpen Brau, Falstaff and Griesedeich, which distributed their beer to saloons, taverns, restaurants and liquor stores within a 100 mile radius of St. Louis. Nearby on Broadway, was the giant Budweiser plant. The breweries were very good neighbors. Their premises were kept spotlessly clean. And every day, they offered a tour of the plants ending up by offering as much free beer to the tourers as they needed.

My brother Earl, whose insurance debit included the brewery neighborhoods, shamelessly took the plant tours at lunch time and ate the beer company’s sandwiches and drank the breweries free beer on many occasions. Earl was acquainted with my thoughts about his shameless conduct. Even though I was 26 or 27 years old and a veteran of the big war, Earl who was 12 years my senior, dismissed my thoughts as the mumblings of a kid brother. He simply kept up his shameless tours of the beer plants for several more years.

At this point, I feel obliged to state my opinion on beer. If someone else drinks it, that is fine with me. But I personally consume only four to six bottles – per year. This has nothing to do with a health problem nor is it the result of some religious proscription. About once each quarter when my wife, Miss Chicka, offers a dish for dinner that seems made for beer, we drink a bottle of beer.

This is not a late blooming reaction on my part. During the war years, it was often my lot to serve on British bases. Some were on the Adriatic side of Italy and others were found through the many possessions that Great Britain held in Africa and the Middle East. The Brits have a reasonable attitude toward alcohol on their bases. They permit it to be rationed and sold by their military system called NAAFTI – which is Navy, Army, Air Force Trade Institute. On American bases, alcohol is almost always forbidden which means that soldiers who are stationed near a town, will often get drunk when they have a leave or a pass to leave the base. By all means, the Brits are many kilometers ahead of the United States Military in the field of alcoholic consumption.

Overseas, upon being paid by the Quartermaster, the soldier would also receive his monthly ration card for beer at the NAAFTI store. In every case, my ration card was given to other U. S. soldiers. For the last six or seven months in the Gold Coast, now Ghana, my bunk was located on top of a bunk occupied by another sergeant named Sylvester Liss. In civilian life, he was a worker at the giant Budweiser plant in St. Louis. Because I had enlisted, my serial number began with a “one”. 17077613. So I was paid first. Liss had been drafted and his serial number began with a “three” and he was paid after all the enlisters had been paid. On pay day, old Sylvester became my shadow. He wanted no other soldier to claim my beer ration card.

Maybe I am making a bigger deal out of my consumption of beer than it deserves. The point I want to make is that I absolutely do not oppose drinking beer. It just doesn’t cause me to perform handstands at the thought of beer. In the St. Louis that I grew up in with a dozen breweries and hundreds of saloons, my casual attitude toward beer was probably considered un-American at the least and probably bordering on Communist treason. But those thoughts did not make me a beer lover.

Two more pertinent thoughts. During Prohibition, starting in 1920, my Aunt Nora made home brew that, to my underdeveloped taste buds, was nothing short of absolutely repulsive. She also cooked ducks and geese. To this day, I don’t eat foul of any kind. I don’t blame it on Aunt Nora; there have been many years when I could have developed a taste for American, or European or Japanese beers. It just did not happen.

The second point is that all those smaller breweries in St. Louis are now seemingly out of business. What is left is the giant Budweiser plant which is more giant than ever. Earl is gone now. I hope the Anheiser-Busch people miss him for the tours and the free lunches.

All of this foreplay about breweries is to set the stage for Eating Heels. Before the First World War, I am told that nearly every top flight saloon had a free lunch counter. The food costs were often underwritten by the breweries in exchange for the saloon owner making a favorable remark to his customers about the brewery. By the time I started to work in downtown St. Louis in 1941, the free lunch counter was just a memory. In its place, saloon keepers sold generous sandwiches on freshly baked bread with lots of side orders such as potato salad also being offered at reasonable prices. By the time I showed up after the war, there was no compulsion to drink beer or any other alcoholic beverage with the sandwiches.

That sat well with young people like me. Working for AT&T after the War, there simply was not enough room in the budget to indulge in a beer with lunch. On top of that, the management of AT&T would have frowned on anyone coming back from lunch with beer on his breath. So it was coffee or cokes or some other non-alcoholic beverage every day for lunch.

Following the end of World War II, the men on military leaves began to return to work in St. Louis. I was among the first to be discharged because my discharge point total was almost twice the prescribed total, and most importantly, I was not on a foreign assignment. So on about November 10, 1945, I reported back to work in the St. Louis Plant Division of AT&T. By Christmas, my old pal Lloyd Rockamann, who had also been in the Italian campaign, came back. Before long after that, Gordon Gintz and Tom Laflin started to work. They were also veterans.

One way or another, the four of us found each other at the one hour lunch period. For a time, we didn’t know where we should eat because so much had changed during the war. Lloyd and I missed the four AT&T men, Ashby Vaughn, Bernie Wheeler, Dave Weiss and Don Meier, who had been killed. I suggested a cafeteria recommended by my wife at the time. It was greatly favored by the women in the office. That was my downfall.

The cafeteria was Miss Hulling’s. It served pretty good food and everyone was very polite. The Miss Hulling’s staff tolerated no boisterous conduct of any kind. It was run, it seemed to me, on New England Puritan standards of conduct. The food was nutritious and the serving sizes would cause no one to deal with obesity. Miss Hulling’s ran a sterile cafeteria.

Before long, my other luncheon companions made it obvious that we ought to go to a place that permitted more relaxed eating. All of my companions had served overseas in the military and when they could get a meal, it was often consumed standing up. Perhaps when it was consumed, it was accompanied by raucous words and gestures. That sort of conduct would be proper in the Army, but would not be tolerated in the prim confines of Miss Hulling’s Cafeteria.

My recommendation of Miss Hulling’s cost me dearly. When the four of us were considering where to find another place to eat lunch, the other three men ignored me. It was absolutely clear that prim eating establishments were not to be considered and I was not to have the chance to recommend one. That was fine with me as I thought Miss Hulling’s place was largely for elderly, female members of the clergy.

So the four of us began to eat in saloons, of which, there were hundreds in downtown St. Louis in 1945 and 1946. Before long we more or less settled on a non-descript place on 11th Street two or three blocks north of our office. It had some saw dust on the floor, but the janitor swept the place fairly often. On the floor in front of the long bar, were spittoons. Few people chewed tobacco anymore, but cigar smokers needed the spittoons.

At the end of the bar, there was a station where a man made sandwiches. A second man offered potato salad and coleslaw and helped make sandwiches when the first man fell behind. The customer would walk up to the sandwich maker and place his order. There were no women as I recall it. The second man would ask if side orders were desired. I have forgotten who got paid, but someone took our money and then we went to the bar to order our beverages. It was absolutely unheard of, at that time, to ask for a dessert of any kind. That would be tantamount to standing up in Miss Hulling’s Cafeteria and shouting an obscenity. Do I make myself clear – there were no desserts. If that was on your mind, you should have gone to one of the many Busy Bee Bakeries and Soda Fountain places that could be found all over St. Louis. You go to a saloon to eat serious food without any frills.

Soon, the four of us became friendly with the two sandwich makers who were also veterans. When I was a young child, my mother baked bread on Mondays in the winter when she could put the dough on the furnace heat pipes to make it rise. When I got home from school, she offered me first crack at the newly baked bread. None of my siblings, who were at work, had come home yet. Always – always it was my desire to eat the end of the bread – called the heel. If my mother had permitted it, I would have eaten the other heel as well.

The heels are more tasty and probably, more nutritious. They have staying power. In my mind, heels are what bread is all about.

As we got to know the sandwich men at the saloon better, I asked them what they did with the heels of the sandwich bread. I could see that they were in a pile at the end of the sandwich station. They told me that the heels were to be thrown away. That included white heels, rye heels and whole wheat heels. At that early point, no one in St. Louis had ever heard of sourdough. Most of the sandwiches were served almost exclusively on white, rye or whole wheat bread.

So I said to the first sandwich man, “Would you make my sandwich with a heel, please?” He asked me to repeat what I said and again, he was asked the same question. Well, the sandwich man cleared his throat and said he would get fired if he put a heel on a customer’s sandwich. So this was very serious business.

I pointed out to the sandwich man that he said the heels were to be thrown away so it made economic sense to offer one or two to me on my sandwich. He said he agreed with my instant economic analysis, but the bottom line was he would be fired if he made a sandwich with a heel. At this point, it appeared to me that an even greater economic incentive would apply if I asked that two heels be used for my sandwich. The sandwich man must have thought that he would not only be fired, but instantly condemned to hell if he complied with my request for TWO heels. This required an appeal to the supreme authority who directed the fortunes of the saloon.

So, somewhere in this friendly colloquy, the owner of the saloon showed up. I explained that under the theory that the customer is always right, he should be glad to offer heels to sandwich customers. I believe my argument was clinched when I rolled out my economic analysis. The owner of the saloon would have to pay to have the heel output hauled away each day. The saloon owner at that point, told the sandwich man that his proscription against heels on sandwiches was hereby lifted. When a customer asked or demanded that one or two heels be used for his sandwich, the sandwich maker was to happily comply. I felt vindicated.

While all of these discussions with the sandwich men and the owner were taking place, the other three men in our group were offering gratuitous comments and insults, and making raucous noises as my absolutely convincing points were made. When I sat down with them, the good natured razzing continued. So every day we ate at the saloon, my sandwiches were made with two heels. Clearly, they were the best sandwiches in St. Louis!

After a short period of time, Gordon Gintz and Tom Laflin got curious. One day, they ordered their sandwiches to be made using one heel. I said nothing as my hopes were to hold out until Lloyd Rockamann was converted. My argument with the one heel eaters was that if one heel made the sandwich better, it was obvious that two heels would improve it by another 50%. Finally, Lloyd Rockamann wanted to see what the enlightened eaters had discovered, so he agreed to try one heel on his sandwich.

For part of 1950, and from April to July in 1951, I was involved in wage negotiations for the Communications Workers of America in New York. So it was impossible for me to check on how the heel eating business was going. When I came back to St. Louis, I was quickly summoned by the General Manager, Vernon Bagnell, to the newly created AT&T Western Area offices in Kansas City. Bagnell offered me a management job that paid an atrocious salary of $475 per month. I took it because it might lead to better things, which it did.

When I told my luncheon companions about the job in Kansas City, they were genuinely happy for me. Naturally, nothing would do but to have lunch at the saloon two or three blocks north of the office. They insisted on paying for my lunch. What really impressed me, however, was that the former cynics each ordered their sandwiches with two heels. The sandwich men said that they were now offering heels and encouraging customers to try them. The owner of the saloon sat with us for awhile and said that such a sandwich innovator, a pioneer in eating, would be missed. Even without a drink, I believed him implicitly.

So I hope this little 50 plus year old story offers you strength to face the future and to eat some heels.

Post Script:
After the four of us ate lunch together, we began to socialize. When Lloyd Rockamann and Gordon Gintz were married, all of us had a part to play in the wedding activities. I hope it is obvious that we cared a lot for each other.

Lloyd Rockamann who was a Signal Corp Sergeant in combat in Italy, wound up in California. Tragically, he died from cancer around 1982 or 1983.

The last I heard of Tom Laflin, he was the Chief of a large AT&T installation in Hillsboro, Missouri. I have been unable to determine if Tom died because AT&T severely restricted the names of deceased employees. I hope Tom is alive and well. One way or another, my mind has led me to believe that Tom has cashed in his chips. I hope I am wrong on that point.

Gordon Gintz did not want to move from St. Louis. He transferred long ago to the Southwestern Bell Company. Several years ago, it came to my attention that he had been promoted to the title of Engineer. That was good news.

They were all good men and good friends. I wish them and their wives well.

I hope that this little essay conveys the thought that these were happy times at the end of World War II. The United States led the world’s democracies. All of the old GI’s who ate saloon lunches with me had, in one way or another, survived the war. At the same time, Lloyd Rockamann and I frequently remembered our four fellow employees who were killed during that war. If they had survived the War, they would have joined us for our saloon lunches.

We were not only alive, but we no longer had to deal with mess kits and the dubious food provided by the United States Army. That was an enormous plus.

These happy times at lunch and in our after hours socializing were often marked by good natured ribbing and insults. For example, at lunch, if one of us ordered any kind of sandwich, it would be a good bet that another old GI would say, “I hope you’re not going to eat that (obscenity)! Sometimes the old GI making sandwiches for the saloon would whisper, “Could you guys help me out? This meat loaf is getting mold on it.” That was probably his best offering for the day. Comments such as these would not have been welcomed in the prim and proper confines of Miss Hulling’s Cafeteria.

As I say, these were happy times. I am glad to commemorate them in an essay called, “Eating Heels.” The old time saloons may be gone, but this commemorative essay lives on.

June 23, 2003

Lagniappe is a French Cajun word which means providing something extra and/or something unexpected.

I am offering this epic poem by Gordon Gintz’s grandfather as lagniappe. When I met the grandfather in 1948, he was between 75 and 80 years of age. That age had not slowed down his wit or his desire to bond with other males regardless of age. When I met the poet laureate of South St. Louis, I was 26 years of age. The poem for the ages is called, “Hot Tamales.”

John and Molly went to the beach,
To enjoy some noontime frolics,
The sun was hot to John’s bare ass,
The sand was hot to Molly’s.

I last spoke go Gordon Gintz in 1951 when I was transferred to Kansas City. After a 52 year pause, I called the Gintz household in St. Louis last week. When I inquired of Dorothy, his wife, she told me that Gordon had died in 1996 of a heart attack at age 73. A year later, she lost her 45 year old son, also to a heart attack. I told Dorothy we would send this essay as well as some others with the thought that they may bring back a pleasant memory or two.

* A tamale is regarded as a food of Mexico, although I suspect that it is probably produced in many places in the U. S. It is ground meat seasoned with chili, rolled in corn meal dough; wrapped in corn husks and steamed. It has been many years since I heard anyone ask for a hot tamale, but there is the recipe, assuming that you will be entertaining the King and Queen of Mexico.

Man, the end of this one was a rollercoaster. A cheerful essay full of good memories, then a postscript, a lagniappe with a dirty poem, and a tamale recipe to boot. I never knew Pop liked bread heels. Maybe I should give ’em a try sometime.


This short essay started out to be named Mini-Seizures, TIA’s or Other Cardiac Related Disturbances. Later in the day after the overabundance of diuretics, prescribed and applied by myself, had tended to pass, this more civilized title now applies.

The burden of what I am trying to say in this essay, is that if patients take an extra diuretic drug such as Aldactazide and Furosemide in a 13 – 15 hour period, whether by prescription directions or by their own volition, some fairly sobering problems may be expected. This is probably true even if the extra drug was taken for an innocent and in an entirely praiseworthy purpose such as controlling weight.

This latest bout with diuretics took place on Sunday, November 30, Monday, Tuesday and early Wednesday morning, December 1, 2, and 3, this year.

For a long time, I have been concerned about my weight. On two occasions, Dr. Andrew Beamer of the Summit Medical Group, has voluntarily offered the opinion, after an examination, that my legs may contain as much as 10 pounds of fluid. That seems about right to me as I have regularly produced weights of 250 pounds over the past few years. My ordinary weight in years past was in the 240 range.

Don’t think that I drink a lot or eat a lot. Generally speaking, a half bottle of wine at Saturday dinner is all I consume in a week. That’s it. No beer, no booze. I was raised in an Irish family where the cooking was akin to abysmal, followed by more than three years in the United States Army. Sometimes, the cooking there made my family’s efforts look better.

In recent years, my portions have been controlled by Miss Chicka, my wife. She is 5 feet 2 inches and International boxing circles would classify her as a zephyr weight. Simply put, by tradition, training and experience, my food intake is pretty modest. On Wednesday evening, we had about 6.5 ounces, not pounds, of artic char for dinner for both of us. On feast days we buy 8 ounces. On NO days do we eat meat or fowl. Fish two or three times a week plus vegetables, beans, lentils, etc get us through.

Now in spite of this modest intake, my weight has consistently stood in recent months in the high 250’s. To deal with this problem over the years, I have stopped eating bread, using only nothing or Melba Toast. My most recent bread stoppage was on either November 5 or 6th, 2003.

To deal with the fluid in my legs, diuretics have been prescribed. Last May 1, 2003, I took K-DUR together with Furosemide and Aldactazide. The result is stated fairly clearly in the second paragraph of the letter to Miss Harhaj, wherein it is concluded that this combination of three drugs “…threatens to kill me.”

When June, 2003 rolled around, another separate seizure happened to me because my heart was hesitant to pump blood during the night. So Dr. Beamer installed a Pacemaker on June 9, 2003. I see no connection between the events of May which led to my letter to Miss Harhaj and to the later seizure. If there is such a connection, it would make my cardiac system glad to hear about it.

As far as can be told, the Pacemaker is working well. At least, when I submit to Teletrace tests, no complaints ever come back to me. Nonetheless, as always with Summer and warm weather, fluid tends to gravitate to my legs and additional weight is gained. This Fall has been exceptionally warm, so my problems continue.

A small aside here. Our front storm door ALWAYS swells up in warm, moist weather and refuses to close. It has done that for the 34 years that I know about it. So I planed it down and used a wood file on it. When the paint was removed, it appears the storm door is made of aluminum, so my wood plane and wood file are not of much use. My only conclusion with the door being metal is that moisture and heat cause the wood around the door to swell. We had a first class handyman here who did a little better than I did in getting the door to close. If it is the wood around the door swelling, as I believe it is, it is a matter of natural inevitability. My earth shaking medical discovery is that in warmer and moist weather, fluid will accumulate in my legs whether I like it or not, or whether the Summit Medical Group likes it or not, as a matter of natural inevitability.

This essay is about my getting into trouble by trying to meddle with the natural inevitability of fluid collecting in my legs.

During the winter months, I had taken Aldactazide in the morning and in the afternoon, either a Furosemide or another Aldactazide was consumed. That is two diuretics per day. I got along pretty well on this regimen. I still weighed more than 250 pounds and wasn’t threatening to regress to the size of ballerinas who must be lifted, with one arm, by other dancers.

During the Summer and warm Fall, 2003, inevitably my legs swelled and it was difficult to wear my slip-on shoes. My weight was approaching or passing 260 pounds. Thinking that this situation ought to be dealt with, on November 18, I started using two 20MG Furosemide and one Aldactazide 50/50 per day. Within a week, my weight fell back by six pounds. However, starting on November 26, or eight days later, certain symptoms occurred that I should have recognized as warning signs.

Here are some of them:
Excessive yawning. One followed by another.
On Sunday, November 30th, we took our usual four mile walk. It was a chore to make it back. There was a small dinner and I was in bed at 9:20PM. Balance was difficult.
On Monday, December 1st, I had less than a tuna sandwich, without the bread for lunch. I then sat in a living room chair with absolutely no inclination to move.
At around 2PM – 2:30PM on Monday, a chill followed by some shaking.

That was followed by tenseness in the body. It was pointless to read the paper because I could not focus on it. There was some difficulty in speaking. Putting one thought after another proved very difficult.

I knew that it behooved me to stay wedded to that living room chair because to walk might mean falling.

Dinner on December 1st was one scrambled egg and fruit for dessert. I broke my bread fast, eating a multi-grain heel from Wegman’s bread. No butter.

Looking back to the Wednesday, pre-Thanksgiving dinner, the fresh lobster and the Argentinean wine did not go down well at all. I blamed the lobsters and it was my thought that an Italian Barolo would have been preferable. It wasn’t the food and the wine that were off; it was my system.

Hoping to make Thanksgiving dinner stay down, the meal was a simple lasagna.

All the meals during this period did not sit well on my digestive system.

I had the impression that the problem was in my head or brain. On December 1st, the attacks happened at least three more times. On this day I eliminated the second Furosemide tablet, taking only one Aldactazide and one Furosemide per day.

On Tuesday, December 2nd, it seemed that the attacks were a little less severe. During the day, there may have been four such attacks. They were not as strong as the previous attacks.

Concentration was largely impossible during such attacks as well as before the event occurred. As evidence, I offer my first draft of a letter to my 13 year old Texas grandson. It is attached. It took me at least an hour to write this draft which suited me not at all. As you will note, the second word is clearly unintelligible. Ordinarily, I knock out a draft like this in perhaps four or five minutes, but this one caused great doubt. It was impossible for me to concentrate.

For your information, the finished letter is also attached, which while it doesn’t qualify as a masterpiece of the English language, it will do to send old Kevin a valve Tappet feeler gauge. It is hard to believe that anyone at SMG will know about such a sophisticated instrument.

On Tuesday night, December 2nd, a final attack came at around midnight. It was far from pleasant, but it was handle-able.

The attacks have not occurred since that time and I have no reason to expect them again as I write this at 9:30PM on December 3rd.

Here are some general observations:

From Saturday, November 29th, some 12 days into the three diuretics regimen, I had the impression that I was walking on my heels. Balance was difficult.
During the attacks, occasionally there was some pain in the left arm, particularly during night time events. It was dismissed as minor.
For the last week or so, it was sometimes difficult to articulate clearly what I had to say. Words with two consonants like “black” came to me with some difficulty and were often mispronounced.
Since going back to two diuretics on December 1st, yawning has stopped.

During the diuretic attack bouts, it was my impression that my jaw had been hit by a hard right hand. Not that my jaw hurt, but my ability to concentrate and to articulate were largely lost. And there was trouble in remembering important events.

I returned on Monday, December 1st, to one Aldactazide and one Furosemide. It is my unsubstantiated belief that Aldactazide and Furosemide can probably also be tolerated as long as they are taken several hours apart. The addition of the third diuretic will probably not be tolerated.

With my confidence restored, Judy and I went to Bills, that high class shop on Morris Turnpike, and spent $78 for a new 3XL sweatshirt and some more tee shirts and shorts. I wouldn’t have done that if the diuretic attacks had continued, as I would begin to prepare to see Ippolito, Summit’s leading undertaker. The fact that Ippolito’s place of business is located one downhill block from Overlook is a matter of significance to me.

I feel better and stronger and, as you can see, this old essayist can still put one word after another. That couldn’t be done a few days ago.

At this point, I can return to worrying about Linda Harhaj, the only Ukrainian nurse I know. That’s only the half of it. The fact is that the Ukrainian community is completely unknown to me. When the Ukraine was under Soviet domination, I had a meal with Boris Chirkov, a big shot Russian Communist telecommunications official in Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine. It was not memorable. I don’t see Boris very often these days, but it would pain both of us to know that Miss Harhaj is thinking about relinquishing her Ukranian surname. I would point out that my wife, Miss Chicka, has retained her Serbian surname. My oldest daughter, married for a long time, still happily uses Carr as her surname. The other daughter also did that until her son’s teachers were hopelessly and utterly confused by boys of one surname with a mother of another surname. But that happened in Texas, so what can you say.

Well, that is for diuretic attacks and unauthorized changing surnames. It is my hope that the medical and surname knowledge of the Summit Medical Group is increased by Himalayan leaps and bounds. If that doesn’t occur, even Herr Professor Doctor Beamer will say that Patient 3477569 gave it his best try.

DECEMBER 4, 2003


Poor Pop — seems like it was just one thing after another like this for years and years.
I’d be very curious to see those two letters if Judy still has ’em! Otherwise they’ll have to wait until my next Austin visit.


In Iraq, over the years, Saddam Hussein has angered his neighbors and his fellow Iraqi’s. The Syrians condemned him to hell sometime in the 1970’s. The Iranians have no use for him because of his war in the 1980’s against them. The Kuwaitis have his invasion of 1991 fresh in their minds. Turkey has never had a “Welcome Saddam” day. Nor has Jordan. In Iraq, Saddam used chemical weapons on the Kurds who make up a large minority in Iraq. And the Shiites regard him, as a Sunni, as their enemy.

So now with his country in ruins and his neighbors all hostile, Saddam has no place to hide or no place that will give him a welcome of any sort.

In the United States, Bush, backed somewhat in desperation by his co-fundamentalist religious leader in Britain, Tony Blair, has angered his neighbors in Canada and Mexico, Central and South America, the Far East, France, Germany and Russia. His “coalition” partners in the Security Counsel were Bulgaria and Spain, a couple of genuine heavyweights.

When he assumed office, he said that no international relationship was as important to the United States as Mexico. This year, he largely cancelled the Cinco de Mayo festivities. And in a fit of pique and childishness, when he attends a conference called by Jacque Chirac in Evian, France, in a month or so, Bush will sleep across the border in Switzerland. Take that, you Brie eating frogs.

So Saddam and Bush have become the pariahs of the world. Saddam, if alive, is holed up somewhere, perhaps in Baghdad. And Bush is reduced to talking to the American Enterprise outfit, a right wing conservative crowd, and addressing soldiers under military discipline to listen to him.

And Bush and Blair proudly proclaim that God leads them and that their version of God oversees their lives. To which I say as a 75 year non-believer, “Let us pray.”

With Bush and Saddam confined to their home territories, in effect home bodies, perhaps they will seek each other out to exchange tales of misery. On the other hand, Tony Blair, ordinarily called Bush’s poodle or lap dog in Europe and in his own country, may arrange for a tearful reconciliation with Saddam. It could be that those two will convert Saddam into a Bible thumping Pentecostal Nazarene Evangelist. Even for those who do not believe in prayer, perhaps this would be a good time to pray.

May 9, 2003

Sorry for the delay in essays! Have been traveling.
Man, I had forgotten how much of a screwup Blair was. The bar for UK PM is pretty low these days, huh.